Identity Theft: The Jew in Imperial Russia and the Case of Avraam Uri Kovner

Identity Theft: The Jew in Imperial Russia and the Case of Avraam Uri Kovner

by Harriet Murav


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Identity Theft focuses on the life and writing of Avraam Uri Kovner. As one of the fiery Jewish nihilists of his generation, variously a critic, author, and bank embezzler, Kovner embodies the problem of identity as a series of translations across cultural boundaries. Kovner, who initiated modern Hebrew criticism, published two novels in Russian as well as a weekly column in a widely read Russian newspaper. He forged a bank check and became notorious in the Russian press as an example of the danger integration of the Jews represented to Russian society. From prison, and later in exile, Kovner defended the Jews in a series of letters to Fedor Dostoevsky and Vasilii Rozanov, both of whom vilified Jews in their writings. Ostracized by both the Jewish and Russian communities, he mimed and at the same time undermined rigid stereotypes of Jewish and Russian behavior, pointing out the uneasy interdependence of the two cultures he inhabited.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780804732901
Publisher: Stanford University Press
Publication date: 05/14/2003
Series: Contraversions: Jews and Other Differences
Edition description: 1
Pages: 243
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Harriet Murav is Professor of Comparative Literature, and Slavic Languages and Literature, at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She is the author of Russia's Legal Fictions (1998) and Holy Foolishness: Dostoevsky's Novels and the Poetics of Cultural Critique (Stanford, 1992).

Table of Contents

A Note on Transliterationxiii
1Early Years11
2The Jew as Nihilist32
3Kovner and Russophone Literature59
4A Chameleon of Our Time83
5Crime and Punishment104
7A Jewish Casanova: Letters to Rozanov156
Works Cited221

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